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December 2005

Where the future might lead, next year

This is the time of year when editors try to sum up the 12 months that have passed. In many cases, the publishers of IT news sources have little news to digest at the end of December. That certainly hasn't been the case for HP 3000 customers or this newsletter and blog. We got what appears, to some, to be a game-changing announcement last week: HP support for the 3000 now runs at least to the end of 2008.

However there's some debate over the details that might lead you to see a different future than "Wow, now we can use our 3000 longer than we thought!" (You can, by the way, provided that you can get along with basic, reactive support from HP).

Among those debated details are the ones omitted from HP's Dec. 20 report, according to OpenMPE chairman Birket Foster, who also happens to lead an HP e3000 Platinum Migration Partner (MB Foster). He shared his thoughts about source code licensing timelines — or the lack of them — in a message to us.

Continue reading "Where the future might lead, next year" »

Alternative boot up strategies: internal disk

HP says that customers are moving away from parallel SCSI-attached storage for their HP 3000s. At the recent HP Technology Forum, Jim Hawkins of HP's MPE/iX IO labs said FiberChannel Storage Area Networks and shared tape libraries are becoming popular. The HP 3000 supports SAN from the XP series of RAID devices to the VA7100 disk arrays.

But how much should you rely on a RAID or SAN device? Internal storage devices might be yesterday's tools, but the modest drive inside your HP 3000 can still be very useful, even if your company has invested in the FiberChannel storage solution of the VA7100.

Moving to the VA solution has great benefits. Last year we interviewed Donna Garverick about the use of the VA7100 array with the 3000s at Long's Drug. But booting directly from a VA array — well, you'd better have an N-Class server (native FiberChannel installed) or a very expensive HP A5814A-003 Fiber/SCSI router (if you can find one) for the 900 Series servers.

The Crossroads SA-40 Fiber/SCSI switch will link a VA array to 9xx 3000s. It just won't let you boot your MPE/iX system from any of its drives. Crossroads isn't interested in adding this functionality to its less costly array connectivity solution. Craig Lalley of EchoTech recommends the affordable Mod 20 arrays for boot capability

So if you're considering a move up to the VA arrays for your 9xx HP 3000 — or even to the XP line of HP arrays — your internal drives can remain as important as ever. Enough to even duplicate them, according to Garverick.

Continue reading "Alternative boot up strategies: internal disk" »

The size of your ecosystem

With HP's news of a support extension, we can't help but recall the vendor's advice about your ecosystem, circa 2001. Back then, marketing manager Christine Martino was certain that the 3000 ecosystem wouldn't be a safe place to habitate in say, five or six years. Which would put HP's range of safety at late 2007, based on its estimates from four years ago.

As we all revise our calendars for an ecosystem with "at least" another full year of safety, we ponder the question of the size of your ecosystem. HP insists that the majority of customers are at least planning a migration, if not already underway. How many are still using their 3000s is a favorite question to kick around.

The last analyst census of your community was in 2003 by IDC. Two years ago, that company estimated between 12,000 and 16,000 HP 3000s were still running. Do whatever math you like; it still looks reasonable to us to say that "at least" 8,000 HP 3000s are running today, worldwide. IDC estimated that the installed base dropped from 23,000 systems in 2002.

VP Jean Bozman of IDC said in an interview after HP's news that the support extension might prompt a new IDG estimate of your installed base. "We're now going to feel like we should come up with a new estimate," she said, adding that she'll report the results to the NewsWire. Bozman added she was surprised to learn that HP will deploy the resources to extend your ecosystem an additional two years.

Continue reading "The size of your ecosystem" »

Holiday week chills response to HP extension

Since the news surfaced just three days before the holiday weekend about HP's extension of 3000 support, users, partners and customers have not sounded off about the change in their calendars and plans. But some have sent us short reports we can share in this quiet week for technology pros.

Remember, this week was supposed to be the last late-December you could enjoy as a 3000 owner if your company relied on HP's support. Now that will be December of 2007. Herman Schweiker said the HP extension wouldn't have any impact on Air Frame Manufacturing and Supply. "We've already moved on to other support providers" describes the situation at the overseas technology exporter.

Jeff Kell, the curator of the essential 3000-L mailing list as well as the OpenMPE list server, as well as system manager of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's HP 3000s, said the university has already moved its third-party apps off its 3000s, but the custom-written applications remain in place. Kell said he's relieved for the extension, but not pleased HP will hold up its MPE/iX source code license another three years.

Continue reading "Holiday week chills response to HP extension" »

Listen to that holiday gift that gives for years to come

HP dropped off its holiday gift to 3000 owners this week, a topic we comment upon in about six minutes of our weekly podcast (6 MB MP3 file). Extending vendor support beyond 2006, to “at least 2008”, HP seemed like it had to admit that migrations were taking longer than anyone expected. Especially back at the end of 2001, when the vendor cut its 3000 business off with a five-year farewell. But the gift came wrapped in the colorful paper of transition success, somehow.

Have a listen to our holiday show, and have a safe and merry weekend. We'll see you back here for more 3000 news and views on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Update: Those NDAs are still in place


HP's e3000 Business Manager Dave Wilde contacted the NewsWire to give us an update about the state of the non-disclosure agreements that have covered receiving 3000 support post-2006. On Dec. 20 we were told those NDAs' terms and limits would be waived, but Wilde tracked down the latest NDA advisory for these companies.

Wilde said about the announcement to extend basic-level support to at least 2008:

As a clarification of an earlier statement made by HP to the NewsWire, HP indicates that this announcement does not invalidate any NDA covering previous HP support discussions with customers. HP also indicates that it will work directly with customers who had previously approached HP, to reconcile the new basic reactive support offering with any prior discussions of support needs.

We'll have a podcast with our holiday analysis of the announcement posted up later on today. Our regular blog entries, with more details on the extension of HP's 3000 business, will resume on Tuesday, December 27.

The unique value from HP's extension: labs

HP surprised some of its customers by announcing on Dec. 20 that its 3000 support business will end two years later than 2006. Some debate has emerged about what this means to the community, to OpenMPE, and to the vendor itself. OpenMPE had a conference call today to discuss its fate in the wake of the HP decision to withhold source code for an extra two years, at least. If the advocacy group is to survive, it might need to be as a user group, rather than an organization running a lab.

The OpenMPE directors will decide what's best for the organization's future, but now the 3000 community's future includes something very unique: an extra two years of work on MPE/iX by its creators. Bug fixes, probably, make up the biggest list of 2007-08 projects. But now the labs in Cupertino and in Bangalore, India have more time to get those many patches out of beta test and into general release. HP reiterated in its letter to customers that the vendor wishes more of you would test those enhancements — the ones which fewer than 300 people voted on in 2003 and 2004 System Improvement Ballots.

The labs have other work to finish, or even succeed with for the first time. The IMAGE/SQL LargeFile database mess is still in repair. HP had a patch for these datasets to replace jumbos, datasets that have caused corruption so routinely most partners advise customers don't use them. HP moved out the repair patch into test with a third party vendor this year, but that patch didn't make the grade.

We've been told by database experts that LargeFile support is so complex it can have plenty of negative performance impacts if it's not done with the most elegant of engineering. Elegant engineering is especially hard when the test subjects must be massive datasets, which take days to test with all but the hottest of HP 3000 hardware. Remember, these are servers that are hampered by slowdown code in all but the biggest models of N-Class devices.

These are the kinds of problems the vendor's labs are best equipped to solve, and now there's more time on the clock to do so. What HP's 3000 lab will do for you during these two years remains to be seen.

Continue reading "The unique value from HP's extension: labs" »

Something new: more HP lifespan

It took less than six hours for the 3000 community to digest yesterday's announcement of extra 3000 support — then a reader wanted to dismiss the announcements as "Nothing to see here. Move along."

We want to disagree. I had the chance to ask 40 minutes of questions just a few minutes ahead of HP's release of its announcement. I spoke with Jim Murphy from HP Services  — ultimately the arbiter of how long HP will remain in the support business — and e3000 Business Manager Dave Wilde. Unlike what that 3000 customer had to say, there is something to see here. The question for any 3000 shop is, “Will I have any use for what I see?”

HP will remain in the support business in 2007 and 2008, but it will be “basic reactive” support, unless you need mission-critical enterprise level support. Basic reactive gets you HP’s repairs, but nothing proactive. And the vendor’s “6 hours from call to completion” guarantee isn’t part of the basic reactive service, according to Murphy.

HP's FAQ file on the extension of its 3000 business says, "Based on local capabilities, HP will offer at least hardware maintenance, software update services, and business hours software technical services on selected components."

As for those limitations and exclusions, those will apply more to the mission-critical level of support. If you’re way out in the boonies, or HP’s just not servicing much of anything in your geography, then mission-critical is either going to be A) More expensive than it’s been, or B) Just not available. Prices change after the end of next year, or the end of your service contract, for mission-critical.

Continue reading "Something new: more HP lifespan" »

HP extends its 3000 support date to 2008

HP released news today that changes its timeline for ending its HP 3000 business. Now, 2006 means at least 2008, and perhaps beyond.

In a surprise move, Hewlett-Packard has extended its support for the HP 3000 beyond the end of 2006, offering customers what it calls "basic reactive support services" for MPE/iX through "at least" the end of 2008.

HP issued a media fact sheet and sent a customer letter to its installed base to announce what amounts to an extension of the vendor's 3000 business for an additional two years. The announcement, released on Dec. 20, also included a statement that HP intends to offer a license of MPE's source code "to one or more third parties." HP will offer that license only once the vendor stops offering "services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers."

But the adjustment of the 3000 business roadmap emerged as the unexpected element in a long-awaited announcement. HP began its announcement with a statement that a majority of customers and partners in the 3000 community have either completed migrations, or are actively working on those projects. HP's extension of its 3000 business came with multiple caveats, a warning that support prices from HP for the 3000 would rise — and another chorus of "transition to a new HP platform as soon as possible."

The realm of possibility for its 3000 customers may have prompted the HP extension of its MPE business. HP wants to give the customers making a transition to newer HP solutions "a little extra time and safety margin." Many customers have found it impossible to meet the previous December, 2006 migration deadline.

"HP recognizes that some companies may need to run their e3000s after HP’s current end-of-support date due to business constraints, transition timelines, or to retain access to data for archive or regulatory reasons," the fact sheet stated.

HP Platinum migration partner Speedware reported that the support extension is a deal that's been offered to HP 3000 sites "for a little while" — provided that the customers sign a non-disclosure agreement about the extension.

Continue reading "HP extends its 3000 support date to 2008" »

HP peers back into its past

Hewlett-Packard, one of the biggest technology companies on earth, began its life inside a garage in a quiet professor-laden neighborhood of Palo Alto, California. In 1987, the company's Ground Zero gained historical landmark status with the State of California as "The Birthplace of Silicon Valley." This year HP is taking the time and spending the money to refurbish and renovate The Garage and the house in front of it at 367 Addison Avenue back to its classic 1938 look. HP now owns the property, a significant part of its history, once again.

HpgaragehouseThis week, while we wait for HP to make its promised "second-half of 2005" announcement about the post-2006 era of the HP 3000, we suggest you take a look at the new video HP's put together about the company's roots and that garage. HP has been through a lot of changes since 1939, when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard sold their first oscillator for $847.50. But no matter what is announced this week before HP goes on its year-end holiday sabbatical, looking back at the company's heritage makes it easier to believe the HP Way that spawned MPE still lives in the intentions of some of the HP employees who still serve the 3000 community.

Have a look at the film at the company's Garage renovation Web page. (The link is on the right-hand sidebar of the HP page). Stay tuned to this space for an update — whenever HP makes it — on the source code decision and whatever else the vendor has to say about helping its customers preserve a heritage. History is something this large corporation obviously still considers important.

Are there support changes coming?

HP 3000 customers still want updates about HP's support of MPE and the HP 3000. We get messages regularly from people like Alex Purves, the Six Sigma Expert at Raytheon's UK operations, who asked last week: "Can you please provide me with the latest position of HP support of MPE/iX?"

This question may have a different answer very soon. We don't know what HP's end-of-2005 announcement will cover, but a pretty safe bet is an update on the MPE source code licensing issues. HP has not promised any kind of third-party license for MPE post 2006 — yet. But time draws near for the decision-mulling process to end; HP promised news by the end of this month.

To answer Alex's question, at the moment, HP is committed to support MPE/iX with HP engineers until Dec. 31, 2006. All year long HP has said, "2006 means 2006." We'll see if it that's what it means soon enough. If HP means to shift that deadline, the sooner the vendor announces that good news, the more it will seem like a goodwill gift to a customer base that has been struggling with migration deadlines by the end of next year. We can't say if any change in that deadline is even a remote possibility. We can only say that it's not impossible — because it's not the end of 2006, yet. And HP has been listening to customers who are migrating. The vendor knows there's customer anxiety about meeting that 2006 deadline.

In the meantime, there's other questions to consider, like, "What is HP's support level, anyway?" From reactive to proactive to mission-critical, there's lots of levels to spend support dollars at HP. Reactive works for most people: Something breaks, and HP helps you fix it. Other levels of support don't get nearly as much pickup by the 3000 community, a very DIY bunch that's been cautious with their spending.

Across the board, you can spend less and get better support for most enterprises with third parties. The level of HP support to help out on the most complex problems is about the only place where HP might surpass a third party — if HP still has the bandwidth to write patches to fix problems like the LargeFile mess in IMAGE. (We haven't heard anything about that fix going into beta-test, five months after it crept into alpha testing.)

The customers' spending caution is the reason those migrations have moved so slowly so far. Slower than HP expected. Slower than third-party partners expected — both those selling migration services and tools, as well as those trying to get alternative support businesses ramped up. Companies haven't budgeted much for their 3000 enterprise, compared to Windows or Unix installations. Migration is big and can be costly, too, depending on which strategy you choose for your transition. People have expected 2006 to be a watershed year for migration — at least HP was pointing to that kind of future just two months ago. That's when HP's Alvina Nishimoto, manager of the HP migration center, told HP Technlology Forum attendees that HP expects something of a panic in 2006. Back in October we reported:

According to HP’s Migration Center manager Alvina Nishimoto, “The majority have some sort of plan by now,” she said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a panic now, as people start to wake up to the fact. The ones that are waiting the longest are the packaged app folks, because they do think it’s going to be faster [to move to a packaged app]. It’s faster, but they still have all their surround code, and they don’t necessarily think of the implications of the surround code."

If the vendor can avert that panic, somehow, thousands of customers might feel some relief. HP has been saying for quite some time now it will extend some support services beyond 2006 — where it can, as resources allow — if you have a clear migration plan for them to review. Just ask customers like Hertz what their migration deadline is. If all that doesn't exactly sound like "2006 means 2006," well, HP can reply that migration is a complex matter. It must be, when we see how long it has taken for a decision about source code licensing to surface. If it surfaces soon. Stay tuned here — we'll report what HP tells the world.

Wait for HP's answer, watch that clock

In this week's podcast (6MB MP3 file), we talk and listen for about seven minutes about changes to the HP 3000's future. Change happens, so be ready for it. That’s the mantra HP has repeated for years, especially to its enterprise customers. Slick TV commercials showed a business morphing. Those computer graphics are not the only thing that’s likely to change from HP. The answers to the questions that have been asked by OpenMPE might get unexpected answers. We don’t know yet. But let’s entertain some possibilities while we wait this week.

Consider data synchronization during transitions

By Nicholas Fortin

For readers who own an HP e3000 server and are interested in the subject of transitions, data synchronization is not talked about very much. One of the most critical topics to focus on during migration planning is the deployment strategy, especially its impact and relation to data migration and data cutover for moving to production. Sometimes you will need to use data synchronization technology to support your desired deployment strategy.

A database synchronization technology facilitates the synchronization of data from one database type to another, usually located on different platforms (making sure updates performed on one database are also performed on another database, as well as keeping the two synchronized). To use a basic example of how this would apply for IMAGE to Eloquence, you migrate an IMAGE database to Eloquence, and then keep the Eloquence database synchronized (updated) with the transactions performed on the HP e3000. Why would you want to do this? Well, I have some examples below.

First, let me go over some migration challenges or caveats related to this topic. You may need a data synchronization technology if one of the following scenarios apply to you:

Continue reading "Consider data synchronization during transitions" »

Choosing the faster platform

HP reports that choosing a database is one of the most significant decisions a migrating site can make. In the same presentation HP's Kevin Cooper mentioned that Marxmeier Software's Eloquence has racked up very good performance numbers, according to reports HP's received from its migrating customers.

But which platform you deploy Eloquence upon can make a difference. In general, the customer base has praised HP-UX as a faster Eloquence platform than Windows, although that kind of generality makes technical experts cringe. Still, there's this report from a user on the Eloquence mailing list:

In testing our software on both Windows and HP-UX we have found that programs that access an Eloquence database take quite a bit longer on the Windows server.  The Windows server we are using has two 2GHz processors and 2GB of memory; our HP-UX server has two 750 MHz processors and 2GB of memory.  For example, when running a C program that does a serial read through the database it takes 26 seconds on Windows and 10 seconds on HP-UX.  On the HP-UX server we have Enable IPC set to 2, when it is turned off the program takes 22 seconds. 

My questions are: 1) The enable IPC option does not seem to be valid on Windows (option not included in config file included w/Windows version; when added to the config file it does not make any difference in processing speed). Is there a way to configure a database server on Windows to get similar benefits that the enable IPC option provides on HP-UX?

2) Is there any info available that shows what specs are needed for a Windows server (CPU, Memory) so that it gets similar performance to a certain HP-UX server when accessing an Eloquence database?

Eloquence creator Michael Marxmeier addressed these questions:

Continue reading "Choosing the faster platform" »

Holiday contributions to MPE's future

OpenMPE continues to wait for HP to announce its decision about a 2007 and beyond license for the 3000's operating system. But the advocacy group staffed by nine volunteers has already announced a plan to create a lab, staffed with 30 experts working on contract, to handle anything that HP will be releasing. Setting up a lab to build MPE/iX with needed patches takes time — perhaps more than HP believes, to do it right.

That's why OpenMPE is hoping to start collecting funding for lab now, in advance of HP's decision. Earlier this year the group announced its pricing stategy for these lab services. While OpenMPE has contracted with an independent accountant to handle the funding finances, one of the group's volunteers is the primary point of contact if you're signing up. (For more details on that lab services plan we refer you to several NewsWire blog articles, as well as the OpenMPE PDF file of its slides from that August meeting.)

Sign up with treasurer Paul Edwards, who has the deposit slips for the OpenMPE account, with a check payable to OpenMPE, Inc.

Paul Edwards & Associates
1506 Estates Way
Carrollton TX 75006
Phone: (972) 242-6660

Donna Garverick, winner of this year HP e3000 Contributor Award from HP, sent a message to underline that the corporate funding of the plan shouldn't scare off individuals who want to help on MPE's future.

Now, before y’all faint -- this is a *proposal* for *corporate* membership -- something/someone with deeper pockets than you and me! For the rest of us... I’ll now direct you to our membership page: See?  Zero cost! is good :-) (You are a member, right?)

However, free isn’t perfect.  I think everyone has some idea of what it will take to run all those racks of equipment required just to build MPE.  There are facility expenses, heating, cooling and so on.  MPE isn’t a free ride today and it isn’t going to be tomorrow either. OpenMPE will take any amount of money you’re willing to send.  $1.... $5.... $20... whatever.  (By the way, OpenMPE is not a charitable the money you are sending won’t be a donation from a tax perspective).

The NewsWire's coverage on the OpenMPE plans to protect the future of the 3000 in 2007, a year when many sites won't be migrated yet:

Podcast, about eight minutes, on setting up the labs
Why OpenMPE matters
Why HP believes a year is enough time
How an emulator is essential to hobbyist licensing
What a new negotiator will bring to the efforts of OpenMPE

Preparing to move to 7.5? Check this list

HP 3000 customers have been advised by HP to consider the latest release of MPE/iX for their 3000s. This 7.5 version of the operating environment has been available for years; HP has already PowerPatched it - a process that consolidates patches into one superset - several times to add functionality and repair bugs.

But moving to 7.5 from 6.5 includes a few things to monitor. HP's 3000 peripherals expert Jim Hawkins recently advised a customer about volume management and IO changes. The counsel Hawkins shared looked like good advice for anyone making the change to 7.5, the last version of the MPE/iX which HP will ever build for the 3000:

The only “gotcha” with LDEV #1 suddenly having more space relates to the case where you have multiple volumes in your MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET. After the update LDEV #1 will look “empty” compared to other volumes and it will become the target of all disk allocations until its free space count is equal to that in the other volumes.  (From 0-90% full across the set; after we reach 90% on all volumes the disk with the largest number of free sectors is the target).  This applies for any MPE Volume set where you add a new disk (which is kind of what you’re doing).

Continue reading "Preparing to move to 7.5? Check this list" »

Itanium: Not dead yet, but...

It's not exactly an obituary, but yesterday's story from CNET reporter Stephen Shankland sums up the 11 years of HP's Itanium project with Intel as "a cautionary tale." Yesterday we sat down with an old friend, Terry Floyd of 3000 ERP experts The Support Group, and we mentioned Itanium briefly. "Could it really be 11 years ago?" we both asked, noting that it seemed like a long time for a chip that hasn't set the world on fire.

As Shankland's story notes, HP and Intel were predicting a blazing future for their joint project way back then. First it was code-named Tahoe, then Merced. Finally the pair of technology giants got first silicon shipped, but the competition wasn't standing around waiting for the release. AMD, IBM and even Sun rolled out their 64-bit entries. Shankland notes that Digital's Alpha fell in the chip competition — but you might argue that the Alpha demise was more about Digital being acquired by Compaq, which was then acquired by the makers of Itanium.

Itanium has a future in the HP 3000 marketplace. Shankland's story reports that Gartner says four of every five Itanium servers shipped during the third quarter carried an HP nameplate. Itanium is the successor to PA-RISC — which is still outshipping Itanium, according to Gartner's figures. But back in the 1990s, CIOs and software companies were told to believe Intel would conquer all with the design that was born in HP's labs.

If there's a caution in HP's Itanium story, it might be this one: Shipping something late is never in line with dominating a market. Late chips don't run any faster when they arrive late. HP will prosper by its investment in Itanium, if you believe that PA-RISC is out of gas. Itanium is the only long-term platform for HP-UX, so that makes the chip's fortunes important to the 3000 community which is migrating to HP's Unix. Some said that HP did its deal with Intel 11 years ago to gain strength of numbers in massive market share. Itanium is unlikely to accomplish that goal, so HP is left with a secondary success: Getting to shut down its chip fabrication and design operations, so it can spend that R&D money someplace else.

Sizing for an A-Class migration

Migration planning includes trying to calculate how much Unix box you'll need to replace that HP 3000 system. While customers have given the newer generation of 3000s good marks compared to the 9x9 and 9x8 servers, one report we saw recently confirms what HP claims: Moving out of the hampered MPE/iX environment which HP slapped onto the A-Class servers will give you some performance room. It seems that those A-Class 3000 systems, just like nearly all of the N-Class servers, aren't running as fast as they possibly can.

The report was just the latest entry we've heard about how HP's held back the 3000 line compared to its Unix counterparts. HP has actually told 3000 customers this is a benefit — at least that's the way it's presented to a room of customers who are asking questions about migration. This time Duane Percox of QSS was answering the following question from a migrating user:

We currently have an HP 3000 A-500 140 2-way, running a client server application using an IMAGE database and ODBCLink as the middleware. Would a RP3440 2x1GHz  PA8900 CPU with 4 GB memory, compare in speed and performance? We are going to convert the IMAGE database to Oracle. Just trying to get an idea.

The answer began with a warning: You might not have as much HP 3000 power to replace as you think you do.

Continue reading "Sizing for an A-Class migration" »

Use SED to automate text processing

Up on the 3000-L mailing list, a lively tutorial broke out yesterday on using SED, a stream editor built in the open source community. Since 2001 SED has worked on the HP 3000, thanks to Lars Appel, a former HP support engineer who ported Samba to the platform in the 1990s.

SED's main MPE page is on Appel's page at (Editcorp is a company that consults in the HP 3000 community, among other places. It also works with relaying the 3000-L postings to the comp.sys.hp.mpe newsgroup.) It's an at your own risk download, but support is available through the 3000 community. Yesterday's 13-message volley proved that; the community heard from Appel on one of SED's blind spots, along with a workaround.

Continue reading "Use SED to automate text processing" »

Keep an open mind: don't be scared about migration

In our podcast for this week, (7MB MP3 file) we talk for seven minutes about migration off an enterprise platform — a big enough job for nearly every 3000 shop. For some, the task is the biggest thing they’ll ever try to accomplish in computing. Even bigger than Y2K. Six years ago there was no bigger scare job than Y2K warnings. Those kind of stories get some shops onto their feet, sure. But hype about dead-ends and disasters might be driving some vendors to their knees.

Exhibit A? Well, for today it’s the latest press release from COBOL vendor Fujitsu. This week the company floated a story about success at one of its client shops, the City of West Covina.  We look at the FUD language in that story and search for alternative tales of migration from vendors more friendly to your familiar technology choices. And we hear of a very large insurance vendor's migration project deadline and how it relates to disasters — of the genuine kind.

HP labs report work on 3000 updates

HP's MPE/iX engineer Jeff Vance posted a report late Wednesday night to update the 3000 community on System Improvement Ballot (SIB) upgrade projects. Yes, the 3000 engineers in HP are still working on delivering enhancements, even though the vendor will walk away from the market in less than 13 months. This is known as giving the 3000 business at HP the ending that it deserves.

Vance said his message was a quarterly update on SIB. We checked our reports to find one about 90 days earlier which covered what HP wanted to put inside the final PowerPatch for MPE/iX 6.5. (HP is still patching 6.5, as you will see below. But this fall saw the final 6.5 PowerPatch, its collection of patches in a single release tape or file.)

This time around, the news is about the march of Network Printing patches, FTP security, support for very big disks on 3000s and new CI functions. Oh, and there's a new BIND version for 3000 DNS support, and a FW-SCSI reporting tool.

You can read the full text of Vance's message posted to the OpenMPE mailing list at:

We found it interesting to compare what was proposed for lab work in March, what was ready for an update in August, and what is ready now. There's been some measurable progress, as HP reels in the sensible lines of enhancement that it cast earlier this year.

Continue reading "HP labs report work on 3000 updates" »

Second careerist seeks 3000 stewardship

That might be the headline of a situations-wanted advertisement for HP 3000 experts. Some have been separated from companies who mismanaged themselves into extinction, while others are no longer working because the HP 3000 they tended has been put on autopilot status, or grounded. Such is the fate of those who have good homesteading skills.

Brian Donaldson is one of these community members. He has been looking for work in the computer business for two years, after working for more than 20 among HP 3000s. Earlier this week we took note of his debut on National Public Radio, as the subject of a Hunger in America series installment. He's been contributing on the 3000-L mailing list for many years. He still has a Series 917 of his own in his Oakland-area apartment. He still has skills to offer.

Donaldson's availability is typical of the kind of opportunity intersection that this community is going to be driving through over the next few years. This week we have examined the time that it takes to migrate, based on reports from Summit credit unions. It's significant. More time than many expect, including testing. Last week we looked at Linux and open source software as a next destination for 3000 sites. Even the community's experts say that Linux has a suck-you-in factor set on high, if you have the least bit of geek in you.

Migration, training in new environments: It will all take time. Who's going to take take of the 3000's needs while your staff makes its way to the future? Perhaps people like Donaldson, who don't need a job so much as paying 3000 work. We're talking outsourcing here, a strategy that might be more attractive to management than hiring consultants.

Continue reading "Second careerist seeks 3000 stewardship" »